Aidan O'Brien and Team Coolmore were expecting to win the Group I English 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket overnight, they just didn't expect to win it with this filly.
Race favourite Maybe was expected to follow in the footsteps of her stablemate Camelot, who won the 2,000 Guineas, but the script went awry when the tough and well-seasoned Homecoming Queen led throughout for Ryan Moore and kept going to win the one mile feature by nine lengths with Maybe battling into third.
"She's a tough, hardy filly with a real pedigree and has been progressive all the way. Perhaps we didn't expect her to win quite like she did, but it was not a great surprise she did win. Joseph [O'Brien, rider of Maybe] said beforehand that she was the one he feared most," said O'Brien.
"She improved a ton after her first run this year to win at Leopardstown last month and in the last couple of weeks she's been after going into a different zone.
"She's not very big but she's got a massive engine and a massive heart. She's fierce determined, she'll never surrender, she's got the best of pedigrees and she's getting better. When you get those things together anything can happen."
All options are now open for Homecoming Queen and for Maybe, who kept on after chasing the leaders on her seasonal debut.
"We'll sit down and discuss it all in the next few days," added O'Brien. "We were delighted with Maybe on that ground first time out. But the Curragh, Ascot and Epsom will all be in the mix."
Ryan Moore, on Homecoming Queen, found it all straightforward.
"The plan was always to jump out and run," he said. "If something came and caught us, so be it, and if she was good enough to stay in front, so be it again, but maybe I didn't expect her to win so far. She's a revved up sort of filly, but the delay at the start didn't affect her, she was ready to go when she got to the start and stayed just the same."
A three-quarter sister to champion racehorse and promising sire Dylan Thomas, Homecoming Queen is the third Group I winner from Diesis mare Lagrion, whose other star is former champion two year-old filly Queen's Logic.
Lagrion is the dam of seven winners in total including stakes-placed Remember When, who was second in the Group I Epsom Oaks and she was 20 when Homecoming Queen was born so is a good example of older mares still being able to produce the goods.
She has the overall record of four wins and three placings from 14 starts, but interestingly was a slow learner and did not break her maiden til start eight when she scored at Fairyhouse over seven furlongs.
Homecoming Queen is the first Group I winner for Danehill stallion Holy Roman Emperor(pictured above), who is not returning to Australia this spring following four seasons of shuttling here.